It’s true what they say. Londoners like to talk about the weather, a LOT. Having lived here for five years, I think I finally understand why…
There’s something almost romantic about the rain, because it brings people together. Literally and physically.
Long may London rain…
As a photographer, I try to capture moments in time. I love watching personal exchanges and documenting life as it unfolds without prejudice. Recently I’ve been observing the weather. Well, it’s hard not to when we had the hottest weather in June and now the wettest in August.
On the one hand, rain is the common ground everyone talks about. Taxi drivers to school teachers, shop workers to CEO’s. It seems no-one is immune to having a view on the temperature, making it the perfect ice-breaker or topic of conversation. But secondly, it unites people in the most beautiful ways.
City dwellers all over the world like to observe their personal space, no more so than Londoners. ‘Mind the Gap’ you’re reminded at tube stations, giving a fair distance to the person standing next to you where possible.
But with London rainfall comes something special. People come together and if you look closely you will see small acts of kindness everywhere.
The simple gesture of sharing an umbrella, shielding each other against the rain, is when you see the true kindness of Londoners. Something they rarely like to admit, but have in abundance. You’ll notice this as a tourist asking for directions, and their politeness to help, even if it’s “chucking it down”.
I observed in my photos that rain brings people together for shelter, in buses and taxis, in doorways and shared shop fronts. Queues of black cab after black cab line up like carriages for shoppers, tourists and business people to jump in and save them from the wet. The awaiting commentary naturally starts “terrible weather we’re having…”. Even in January, the coldest month!
In a rare act of non-judgment, people put aside fashion differences, because a cagoule is suddenly king, and if you have Hunters (the Londoner’s choice of wellie), you’re totally winning! The rain makes any fashion acceptable, because it’s all about survival, and that’s what Londoners do better than anyone.
It’s what you came for!
There are some things integral to visiting London – riding the tube, having afternoon tea, a selfie in front of Buckingham Palace… and walking in the rain.
As a tourist from warmer pastures, the novelty of rain will not be lost on you. It’s great for a ‘wish you were here’ selfie, even better for outdoor sightseeing as queues suddenly evaporate. Make the most of it.
You may know the opening track to Hotel Costes Vol.4 – “I like London, in the rain”. It tinkles like rain droplets and seduces with its jazzy soulful beat. I found myself humming it to the London weather today. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a wet day in the capital, and a better excuse to snuggle up to that person you love.